Māori political play looks credible

Māori political interests are becoming clearer and look like they are aiming for real gains – and it doesn’t look favourable for the Labour Party, who appears to be losing it’s connection with yet another pew from it’s once broad church.

Maiki Sherman has an in depth and fascinating analysis of Māori political manoeuvrings at Newshub – Opinion: Māori politics now a Game of Thrones.

In short, the Kīngitanga movement appears to be teaming up with the Māori Party, and they are working towards an alliance with Hone Harawira and the Mana Party.

The person at the centre of this is Tuku Morgan, ex NZ First MP and now a closer adviser to Kīngi Tuheitia and president of the Māori Party.

If this works it could put a strong bloc of Māori in a strong political position, competing with NZ First for holding possible balance of power after next year’s election.

And it will either sideline Labour from power, or it have a powerful influence over a Labour led coalition.

National could be the main benefactors – apart from Māori.

As next year’s election looms closer, the power plays have begun.

And right at the centre of it is the King himself – Kīngi Tuheitia, the Māori Monarch. His movement, the Kīngitanga, is reasserting its relevance.

The King’s annual address is the only time he speaks publicly.

Over the years, his speeches have included the personal criticisms faced by the King and the overwhelming need to reaffirm the relevance of the King Movement.

Of equal importance, and intrinsically tied to the two points just mentioned, are the ever-increasing political themes seen in the King’s yearly speech.

Māori water rights, Kōhanga Reo, a Treaty of Waitangi claim to greater Auckland, and the question of sovereignty.

All of these issues have been part of an attempt to assert the power of the Kīngitanga.  

However, the King Movement does not command the same power it once had with the Government of the time.

The movement itself, as noted by the King in his annual addresses, has had to work on rebuilding its support amongst the Māori people.    

A king with fractured support from his own tribes is a king whose power is also fractured, leaving cracks for any government to divide and conquer.

Securing major concessions such as shared sovereignty then would be an uphill battle.

And so, politically at least, a strategy is needed to strengthen the King’s hand in the realm of Parliament.

Cue the King’s speech of 2016 that attacked Labour.

It was claimed the King went off script this year. But this is not the case.

Labour leader Andrew Little was set up – he was sitting front and centre moments before the King’s address was delivered.

The King said he would not be voting for Labour again and criticised the leader for his unwillingness to work with the Māori Party.

He then went on to back the Māori Party, with a nod also to Hone Harawira’s Mana Movement.  

The King’s Hand – Tukoroirangi Morgan

Tukoroirangi Morgan has been the King’s Hand – the King’s closest adviser – for many years.

And Morgan now has another job – he was recently appointed President of the Māori Party.

He is expected to be a game-changer for the Māori Party. The latest developments with the Kīngitanga support is a clear sign of this.

Morgan’s strategy and game plan will be well thought out.

The first move was to extend an olive branch to the Mana Movement. Breakfast with Hone Harawira.

And the backing of both the Māori Party and Mana Movement by the King in his annual address was anything but a coincidence.  

The Marriage of Convenience – Mana Party

A Maori Party-Mana alliance is the ultimate marriage of convenience in the Seven Kingdoms.

The seed was already sown following the meeting between Tukoroirangi Morgan and Hone Harawira.

A formal merger is highly unlikely. But a marriage of convenience is very much on the cards. A deal is almost certain to be struck in the Seven Kingdoms.

The King’s endorsement of Mana though has served more reasons than one. It would be a hard sell to say the Kīngitanga was backing an independent Māori voice without acknowledging Mana.

The Political Pawn – Māori Party

The real power-play here is the King’s endorsement of the Māori Party and setting up its alliance with Mana.

In order to strengthen the Kīngitanga’s political relevancy, they need to secure more concessions from the Government.

The King and his office are well and truly  aware of the benefits of sitting at the Government table.

Unlike other political parties, the Māori Party is not tied to the greater party needs and wants. Māori aspirations come first.

And so the King is taking over the Māori Party –  a movement capable of doing the Kīngitanga’s bidding at the Government table. And sitting across from John Key will be none other than Tukoroirangi Morgan.

The Māori Party has been hijacked by the Kīngitanga – they just don’t know it yet.

Perhaps they are willing parties to this power play – they will have been well aware of the significance of appointing Morgan as their party president.

The Princess – Nanaia Mahuta

So, where does Nanaia Mahuta sit in all of this? The Hauraki-Waikato MP has been the political princess of the Kīngitanga for two decades.

Questions have been swirling for a while about whether Mahuta will contest the next election. While she has confirmed she intends to stand, inside sources reveal that is not the case. The King’s attack on Labour all but confirm this. It is no longer a question of if, but simply when Mahuta will step down.

The King’s criticism and its inferred message for voters to ditch Labour now makes it far too awkward for Mahuta to stand at the next election. Hauraki-Waikato are block voters. They have backed Mahuta over the years, much of it based on loyalty.

And loyalty should not be underestimated when it comes to Māori politics. When Labour announced its reshuffle in December 2015, Mahuta was demoted down the list. This caused outrage among Hauraki-Waikato constituents and the Kīngitanga. The King’s spokesman Tuku Morgan came out firing saying Little would regret it and the snub would come back to bite the party in the backside. The Kīngitanga has delivered on that promise.      

Labour has now been outcast by the Māori King, and therefore, the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

Expect the Māori Party to win this seat at next year’s election.

The Outcast – Andrew Little

Labour has now been outcast by the Māori King, and therefore, the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

However, with at least another year out from the election, expect further moves to take place in the interim.

As the old saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Labour have tended to use their Māori support rather than deliver what it has wanted. No are we seeing some utu?

The Gatekeeper – John Key

According to a media advisor in the King’s office, John Key and Kīngi Tuheitia have had at least three meetings in the past six months.

A stronger Māori Party could also be another saviour for National in that it may not have to rely on the Kingmaker – Winston Peters.

The Māori King could save Key from Winston the Kingmaker.

Yet, as they say – a year is a long time in politics. Anything could happen.

But one thing is certain – the Māori politics Game of Thrones is well and truly underway.

Yes, a lot could happen in the next year.

But what Sherman illustrates here is credible, and it looks like a well thought through plan. That could succeed.

The biggest unknown is who will lead the next Government, National or Labour. This plan appears to favour National. But above all it could put the Māori Party, the Māori King and the Mana movement into a very powerful position – and there may be little the rest of us can do about it.

What would provide a strong Māori bloc in Parliament with the most benefits?

A Labour led coalition, where Labour is keen to make up for nine years out of power, the Green Party is keen to launch their long planned ideals, possible NZ First are also in the mix, with the Māori Party making up the numbers?

Or the Māori Party building on their relationship with National, possibly providing National with a path back to power without needing to rely on Winston Peters, and holding on their own a decisive vote?

Where would Mana fit in if Harawira wins his seat back? He has vowed never to team up with National. But he could still team up with the Māori Party, who apart for Confidence and Supply have voted against the Government more than for it.

The next year in politics could be much more interesting than the same old ‘Winston holds the balance of power’.


Leave a comment


  1. See also: Jo Moir: The Maori King has nailed his colours to the mast by shunning Labour
    That appears to give some more Labour-centric views on what has happened this week – with quite a degree of concern.

    Labour seem to have been given a right run around.

    Will they react by fighting against it? Or will it force them to try harder to give Maori what they want?

  2. Blazer

     /  27th August 2016

    looks like Nania Mahuta will be jumping ship.All good for the Nats.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  27th August 2016

    What is Morgan’s relationship with Peters now? AFAICS the King is just the puppet. The Maori oligarchy is manoeuvring. It’s hapless commoners will be kept poor and ignorant.

    • My reading of this is that the Maori party/Maori King will be competing with NZ First for the balance of power. I don’t see any room for them to work together.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  27th August 2016

        If the Maori grouping is seen as a real threat a backlash could play straight into Winston’s hands.

        • Gezza

           /  27th August 2016

          Winston wants to dump the Maori electorate seats. Don’t think he’s got wide appeal amongst Maori.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  27th August 2016

            I wasn’t thinking the backlash would come from Maori. However you underestimate his Maori support in the North at least.

  4. Gezza

     /  27th August 2016

    The biggest problem for the Maori King will be Andy’s brilliant mastery of strategy & communication, & steadfast principles, which could win all Maori over again at the last minute & totally wreck his hopes. Or not.

  5. pickled possum

     /  27th August 2016

    Labour the Ex mistress of some, most? Maori.
    Maori, NZ1st, Mana, many arms of the one Te Wheke
    this is the start; to the way forward imo
    Amalgamation. Is this a good word Al ? M#CK ?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  27th August 2016

      Mana split from Maori, now Morgan tries to get Harawira back in the tent pissing out. I don’t think he will ever stop pissing off.

      I don’t see the good ideas that are going to make a difference coming from those at the top who enjoy the difference.

      The real difference comes when those at the bottom have a real chance to get to the top. The only way for that to happen is education and commercial opportunity and encouragement and support.

      • pickled possum

         /  27th August 2016

        Yea well Al Hone just pissed off those who had No understanding of his kaupapa Right or Wrong … his kaupapa that is.
        Clawing a way to the top of the ladder is just not in every DNA Al.
        Old age Hippies comes to mind. 😉
        Have you been into a primary skool lately? … heard and seen for your own eyes the kind of education one gets?
        How does commercial opportunity help? when most all of NZ products are made in China or some other Cheep country.

        Do you know what happens to the hundreds of teachers that graduate from Teachers Training? Where do they go? Overseas Al that’s where, because the chances of getting a stable living wage job in Nz is sometimes extraordinarily hard.

        Of course encouragement and support to make a way for some to climb the ladder of success, is all important.

        Mana split from Maori when Maori Parti were not seen to have the best interest of Maori and Hone created a parti where their voices were heard.
        Know its time to join together to become a Leading voice in the future of us all.

        Winston has some relevant points on #thatdirtyword = immigration and the consequences of it on our more vulnerable low wage people, what ever colour.
        So we shall see what happens if Hone wants to go camping in the tent and if WP plays a part in setting up the tent. Will Tuku Morgan be happy in the flaps of the tent.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  27th August 2016

          Yes, I have been into Te Kura O Waikare a couple of times a year ever since we moved to live in the North nearly 20 years ago – because we sponsor the Books in Homes Duffy program for it. I have also known and worked with a friend at Mainfreight for even longer and he is now the chairman of the Duffy Trust. Mainfreight has been the foundation partner of the program sponsoring many schools itself and has now started a similar program in the USA.

          As for teachers, like health in NZ the industry is a big government bureaucracy which will never be attractive to me. I would say to young people, “Don’t look for a job. Look for customers.” At least they should think about that. It is a whole different world and mindset.

        • pickled possum

           /  28th August 2016

          Edit … Know is not Now,
          Know means be aware
          Now means at the present time
          So my ‘Know its time to join together’
          is wrong, should it be,
          “Now it’s time to join together.”

  6. Pete Kane

     /  27th August 2016

    Tuku explained away the credit card excesses at the new (Government funded) Maori TV network(the underwear a tiny tip of the iceberg) as “I had the mana”. So there you have it.

  7. Paikea

     /  27th August 2016

    #1 Te Ururoa will never forgive Hone for the bullshit prior to the Maori/Mana Party split. That enmity goes back to St Stephens’ days.
    #2 Tuku didn’t consult Te Ururoa before making the approach to Hone. There’s going to be some real grief between those two. Te Ururoa is the only one who kept the Maori Party from sliding off into oblivion. Tuku is a late arrival.
    #3 Voters have consistently punished the Maori Party for aligning with National. They couldn’t even hold Tariana’s old seat last time.
    #4 No-one thinks that anyone other than Tuku wrote the King’s speech
    #5 In the words of the late Api Mahuika (trans.) ” He’s not my king…”

  8. Corky

     /  27th August 2016

    Key only has to supply a few cookies for Maori to keep them sweet. Conversely, Labour will have to ply Maori with the whole cookie jar in return for Maori support. That in turn will alienate average voters, who will quite correctly see another gravy train leaving the station..

    The best Labour can hope for in its present configuration is a one parliamentary term as government before disintegrating for good. Not much of a choice.

  9. Compared with his predecessor, Mr Tuheita who professes to Kingship, is a shallow shadow of those like Te Puea, Koroki, and Atataarangikahu. He seems to be a puppet, easily managed by his “Dalang” Tuku Morgan. Tuheita does not inspire support from Ngapuhi, Te Aupouri and TeRarawa who seem to be captured by Peters and Harawira. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Dame Te Ata on Majuro in the Marshall Islands and was impressed by her presence, her calmness and she displayed exceptional qualities of leadership, personal discipline and intelligence. Tuhieta is not in the same class as a person in my view=which I admit is a very personal one. The splintering in Maori support from Morgan, Harawira and Peters is similar to the divisions in Labour. I believe that imagined self-interest will drive the way that Maori will vote rather than a unified support for what is best overall for Maori. I do not see the sort of unifying leadership for Maori long term interests amongst the present crop of aspiring leaders which is a shame because if the follow down the track of demanding sovereign power, it will be a disaster for national unity.

  10. PDB

     /  27th August 2016

    The Mana party, Maori party and Maori king all have one thing in common – they don’t speak on behalf of the majority of people identifying themselves as Maori.

    Best they be left to talk ‘big’ amongst themselves whilst the rest of us decide next year what direction is best for all New Zealanders, regardless of ethnicity or race.

    • But PDB, you’ll decide “what direction is best for all New Zealanders” based your ethnicity and race, won’t you? Same as everyone else?

      Is it possible to do otherwise …?

      • PDB

         /  27th August 2016

        No? Ethnicity and Race have no bearing on any of my decisions, including political ones.

        • Aha! I had a sneaking suspicion you weren’t human …

          • How dare yous downvote ME!!!

            So, you’d all admit that Maori people can keep their race and ethnicity out of their political decisions, right? Polynesians, Asians, Indians, Chinese, South Africans and Nigerians too I suppose?

            All I’m saying is I believe anyone who thinks they can keep their race and ethnicity out of their political decisions is plainly deluding themselves …

  11. I could not agree more PDB.

  12. Blazer

     /  27th August 2016

    I always think the Green Party are the natural complement to Maori in politics.

    • PDB

       /  27th August 2016

      I agree – both are not worth wasting a vote upon.

      • Blazer

         /  27th August 2016

        I didn’t think you were either Maori or Green.Who do you think is worth wasting a vote….upon?

  13. Zedd

     /  27th August 2016

    methinks the Paki-whanau are just showing their true colours : blue, bluer, bluest ? :/

    * ngeru nunui

    • Zedd

       /  29th August 2016

      The British monarchy are ‘officially’ a-political. keeping their ‘opinions to themselves’.. maybe the senior ‘kingitanga’ (other treaty partner) whanau should take heed of this protocal ?! 😦

  14. Pete Kane

     /  28th August 2016

    May as well hear it from the h………………………………………………. (first couple of minutes anyway.)
    “The Maori King dealt a blow to the Labour Party this week by backing the Maori party and saying he would not be voting for Labour again. However, Labour have the upper hand heading into the election next year holding six of the seven Maori seats, and unphased by the royal comments, the party’s leader says they’re aiming for them all. With political reporter Mei Heron.”

    • Pete Kane

       /  28th August 2016

      Actually, if this takes off, it will put Sebastian amongst the canaries in terms of the list. Not only with women’s caucus in terms of the Maori male MPs but also the Maori women MPs (unless someone’s seen a poll that I haven’t).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: